Tuesday, June 2, 2015

When Their Hard Is Your Easy

Last fall I was in a rough spot. I was in my third trimester of pregnancy, my two boys had hand, foot, and mouth disease, and Justin was on a business trip. We couldn't go anywhere. Contagious, y'all. No one wants that. We even ended up missing missions conference at our church and it's my favorite weekend of the year.

At first I tried to be stern with myself and remind myself that my problems were nothing compared to some people's. While that was true I needed to give myself grace. It didn't compare to some people's problems but it was hard for me right then. It was ok to tell myself that instead of beating myself up for feeling so discouraged. 

We are all at different stages. It's natural to judge someone else based on where you are in life instead of where they are. If we could see life from their viewpoint we would be more compassionate 

You don't tell your third grader to "suck it up because third grade is nothing. Look what your brother is doing in eighth grade!" (At least I hope you don't.) We must move into the problems and difficulties of others even if they seem to be no big deal to us. 

Maybe it is easy. But you don't know it's easy until you've done something harder

-That first run after five years would be nothing to a marathoner, but it's hard. 
-That first baby doesn't seem intimidating to a mother of five, but it's hard. 
-That high school speech class may be a cinch to a public speaker but it's hard. 

Life is full of hard things. Sometimes even good things are hard. Hard doesn't mean bad and it doesn't mean you don't like where you are. Hard is just growing space. 

1. Recognize where the other person is. Have you been there before? Remember how hard it was for you. Really remember the struggles you had moving into a new job, adjusting to a new baby, dealing with a sick parent, bearing a strained relationship. 

2. Acknowledge to the other person that it's hard. Their situation is hard. Don't act as if they shouldn't be struggling. Don't be so protective of your image that you can't say, "Wow, I really struggled with that (or something like it) when___" and let them know we're all in the same boat. And we all grow. The hard things now may be easy things later. 

Sometimes we need someone to tell us that their life is hard too. If you come across as having it all together or being perfect you can't help anyone. No one can relate to that. We all have problems and difficulties and sometimes even our greatest blessings are hard. That's life.

3. Save the platitudes. Of course they are said for a reason; they are almost always true. But you don't have to say them. "You'll sleep when they're grown" will make an exhausted mama cry.

4. Offer help. Help- not advice (unless they ask). Maybe it's just a listening ear but sometimes that's all the help a person needs. A lot of time we can work through the problems or come up with a game plan to tackle them if we just talk about it. There are practical things you can do to help: take them food, run errands, watch their kids.  

Please, please don't look at someone who has trusted you with their heart, their perceived inadequacies and say, "Well, I did it and I survived." or "Well, I had it harder because of blah, blah, blah." They will only feel embarrassed that they can't handle it on their own. They'll learn not to turn to others (or at least not you!) when they are struggling. 

We struggle. People struggle even with simple things at times. Why don't we offer others a hand up instead of kicking them further down?

Lastly give yourself grace. Maybe you are struggling with something and you don't think anyone else is. Everyone else seems to have it down. Don't be discouraged. You'll grow into it. Acknowledge that it's hard and ask God for help. 

Be a person who takes the concerns of others seriously. Bear their burdens, meet their needs. Don't brush off their hard because it's easy to you. 

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Romans 12:15

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